Sunday, 17 March 2013

Tripartite Talks? Gone or will it survive the Spanish present government rejection?

Below is what appeared in our Daily Paper the Chronicle:


by Dominique Searle

A bureaucratic Battle of Britain - set off by new air passenger compensation rights in the EU - is set to take place in a series of exchanges that could decide the true fate of the Tripartite Forum’s future and its legacy.

And the European Commi-ssion, carrying its white flag, has set about adopting a proposal without removing a Gibraltar exclusion clause that dates back to 2004. Under the Tripartite’s Cordoba Agreement, Spain undertook to cease blocking measures which bring both obligations and benefits to the airport and its users.

The Gibraltar Government reacted angrily to the move describing it as “unacceptable”.

It was this last Wednesday that the European Commission adopted a proposal for an EU Regulation amending the 2004 EU Regulation on denied boarding compensation and other passenger rights.

The 2004 Regulation is one of the remaining EU aviation measures that still contains the suspension clause. The proposal for the amendment does not seek to remove the suspension clause, the Government noted. “This attempt to exclude Gibraltar is in line with the declared policy of the present Spanish Government to dismantle the Cordoba Agreement with regards to the inclusion of Gibraltar Airport in EU civil aviation measures. It is totally unacceptable that the Spanish Government should seek to turn the clock back in this way,” said No 6. The Government says it takes a very serious view of this matter and will be taking steps to impress this upon the European Commission and other relevant EU bodies.

UK response

London also took the view that the move is “unacceptable”.

“We are deeply disappointed by the Commission’s decision to propose a Regulation that would not remove the suspension of Gibraltar’s Airport. This is unacceptable and runs contrary to the spirit of what was agreed at Cordoba in 2006. We are considering our next steps,” said the Foreign Office.

In reality this is the first attempt by Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Garcia Margallo to reverse at technical level the Cordoba arrangements, albeit hiding behind the Commission.

In Cordoba in September 2006 it was agreed that “as part of the arrangements, there will be a lifting of Gibraltar Airport´s suspension from all EU aviation measures. Consequently, Gibraltar Airport will be bound by, comply with and benefit from all applicable EC regulations and directives. The participants attach particular importance to EU rules relating to environmental impact. As part of the arrangements there will also be an end to the current discriminatory restrictions imposed by Spain over use of Spanish airspace by civilian aircraft flying in and out of Gibraltar Airport.”

Ironically a huge number of the passengers who come through Gibraltar airport are either Spanish or going to Spain. But the key issue here now is whether or not the Tripartite Forum can be kept on life support and what the losses will be once the diplomatic cross fire concludes.


Earlier, South West and Gibraltar Euro-MP for the Liberal Democrats Sir Graham Watson hads welcomed new European rules which have come into force for airline passengers. But his office confirmed they were uncertain as to the effect for Gibraltar but had assumed it would apply.

Under new rules set out by the European Commission, clarification has been made to “exceptional circumstances” such as mechanical faults where until now, airlines did not have to pay out compensation to airline passengers. Previously, some airlines challenged rulings in court under this measure, resulting in passengers having to go through expensive legal challenges in order to receive a refund.

A number of rights already exist to passengers, who can claim for accommodation and refreshments if a flight is severely delayed or cancelled due to severe weather or a strike.

Sir Graham, who has assisted dozens of stranded constituents with disputed cases, commented, “I welcome the new rules which will stop airlines from using mechanical faults as an excuse and instead oblige them to live up to their full responsibilities as carriers of passengers.”

“Your rights to accommodation, food and a free transfer to a later flight when a commercial flight is delayed or cancelled are some of the great benefits you enjoy as a citizen of the European Union. But all too often, consumers are not aware of their rights and some airlines have, on occasion, chosen to exploit this.”

“Whilst most airlines play by the rules, others choose to flout them. I urge any of my constituents who feels that their rights have been ridden roughshod over by an airline on a flight within the EU or whose final destination or departure is within the EU, to contact me,” he said.

“I now hope this week’s clarification of the rules will help ensure that airlines are more transparent and more responsible. The European Parliament has worked to protect passengers and we will continue to ensure no one is left out of pocket when a flight is cancelled or severely delayed.”

Below some more information

The Gibraltar rights suspension clause

Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 states that “arrangements for greater cooperation over the use of Gibraltar airport were agreed in London on 2 December 1987 by the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom in a joint declaration by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the two countries. Such arrangements have yet to enter into operation.”

It adds: “Application of this Regulation to Gibraltar airport is understood to be without prejudice to the respective legal positions of the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom with regard to the dispute over sovereignty over the territory in which the airport is situated.”

“Application of this Regulation to Gibraltar airport shall be suspended until the arrangements in the Joint Declaration made by the Foreign Ministers of the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom on 2 December 1987 enter into operation. The Governments of Spain and the United Kingdom will inform the Council of such date of entry into operation.”


EU air rights boosted for passengers, except perhaps Gibraltar

The European Commission announced a package of measures for new and better rights to information, care and re-routing for air passengers who are stranded at an airport.

To ensure passengers can actually obtain the rights to which they are entitled the commission has also brought in measures with better complaint procedures and enforcement measures.

Passenger rights have been amended in four key areas:

1. Clarifying Grey Areas: rights to information on delayed or cancelled flights; extraordinary circumstances; rights in relation to long delays and tarmac delays; contingency planning; rights to re-routing and rights on connecting flights.

2. New Rights: in the case of rescheduling; misspelt names; new rights with regard to mishandled baggage and transparency requirements for cabin and checked luggage.

3. Enforcement, Complaint-Procedures and Sanctioning: strengthening oversight of air carriers by national and European authorities (monitoring and joint investigations); as well as for complaint handling and enforcing individual rights (including a requirement on airlines to reply to complaints within two months); insolvency.

4. Disproportionate Financial Burden: limits to assistance; limits for regional operations; sharing the economic burden.

Vice President of the EC Siim Kallas said “It is very important that passenger rights do not just exist on paper. We all need to be able to rely on them when it matters most – when things go wrong.”

“We know that the real priority for stranded passengers is just to get home. So our focus is on information, care and effective rerouting. The aim is to get passengers where they want to be as quickly as possible while giving the airlines the time they need to sort problems out,” he adds.

Some comments from people:

"UK ITS TIME FOR YOU TO PLAY HARD BALL. If they wont include Gibraltar you should veto. If not we shall see where your priorities and interests truly lie. Don't leave us in the lurch"

"And to think that the EU got the Nobel Peace prize 2012 for " having over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe" What about our human rights, they never seem to take us into account, aren't we Europeans too?"

"The UK seem to have the couldn't care less attitude when it comes to Gibraltar ,what a corrupt world we live in ,where they have their priorities wrong ,first comes the interests and then the people ,where are our Human Rights ,do we in Gibraltar have any rights at all in anything that concerns us ,who defends us ,who speaks for us ,we are 30,000 British Citizens here don't we count for anything at all,who protects us from the big Bully which is Spain ,we need answers and soon "

"This restriction were impose by a DICTATOR and are implemented by another one.....shame on the EU and the Spanish Govt. We should find ways and means to tackle this issues in a court of law."

"it seems they, The UK GOV, don't care about anyone even IN the UK apart from themselves."

"Well look what is happening in Cyprus with their savings now ,its frightening what the EU dictates and ordinary citizens are going to suffer"

"Yes always the poor citizens, The world is not a nice place right now."

What can be seen is the hypocrisy of the European Union towards Gibraltar! Just one week ago they confirmed that Spain measures to combat Tobacco smuggling was not illegal. Yet read how they react when France puts in their measure!

How is it that the Spanish government can get away with imposing a 15 kilometer territorial ban on the importation of cigarette ban on tobacco from Gibraltar and yet the France gets chastised for there own laws on tobacco imports.


While the European Union tries to rob our own waters from us to give to Spain which is totally illegal - Spain now tries more bullying tactics in which the European Union are turning a blind eye! How can this continue to happen to us? How can a bigger country bully a smaller country and still be getting away with it?

According to Spanish press reports test drilling for shale gas otherwise called Fracking is to be carried out in the straits of Gibraltar by an american company, licensed by the spanish government, called Scheupbach Energy.Worrying indeed as fracking is banned by some countries becuase of it's alledged danger to the environment including the quality of our drinking water.

What is evident is that the European Union is not being Fair and Just to all!

UK needs to stand up to this bullying and bring it to a halt!

More bullying continues and the world just watches and we need the world to join us and stand up for us and with us against Spain's constant bullying and harassment. 

In view of the fact that this project is an European Unioin iniative will the Port of Gibraltar derive any benefit from this or will we be ostracized as it has happened before when we are left out on decisions taken by the EU that affects us as after all the straits is named after our Rock.

We now call on the United Nations to step in and bring justice!

We are fed up of the negative propaganda Spain give Gibraltar - the excuses of contraband for the excessive checks at the frontier but lo and behold how quiet they stay when it happens in Algeciras! Maybe they are so busy putting controls at our border and they forget the other places in their country!

Cigarettes worth 1 million 300 hundred thousand euros apprehended in the Port of Algeciras.Where exactly is large scale contraband being carried.Surely it's not in Gibraltar as spanish propaganda say. In this area it's the Port of Algeciras and yet we get the bad press!What about the ones that get away!


The worse the corruption in Spain is happening all over - yet they try to picture only anything to make Gibraltar look bad - read on this one - Corruption in the spanish enclave of Ceuta has no limits.In some instances copying mainland spain. 29 military personnel arrested for their alleged involvement in the production of possible fake academic qualification documents.

What is not right is that the European Union is quick to protect the Spanish people but slow to protect the 30,000 British Citizens suffering everyday some form of bullying and harassment  We should not be ignored! We have rights as human beings too!

Spanish eviction procedures are contrary to EU laws, says Euro Court of Justice 

Where is our justice? Where is our Right? Where is our Choice? Where is our Voice? Why are we being forced to lose our rights, our land our sea?

Each day that goes past that Spain is not reprimanded for their injustice to Gibraltar and its people is one day less of our freedom to choose to be who we are!

Join us in our fight for our rights - join us to stand up to Spain and join us to highlight to the European Union, United Nations and to the world that Spain must stop this bullying! We have had two referendums and made our choice - now they need to respect our voice - our choice to be and remain BRITISH!

Anne-Marie Struggles

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